June was a huge month for new sci-fi and fantasy books. Here are some of my favorites.
For her whole life, August has never let herself grow attached to any place or anyone, preferring to study people rather than actually getting to know them. Until she meets Jane, an impossibly perfect girl on the subway who she’s inexplicably drawn to. A girl who inspires her to let people in again and cracks her wide open. There’s just one problem: Jane is from a different time.
With subway parties, drag shows, and a band of hilarious and sweet queer friends I would love to be adopted by, One Last Stop manages to provide laughs, queer history and love, a heist, time travel, and a feeling of belonging that is impossible to get from most other books. This sci-fi romcom really describes the feeling of being afraid to let people know you, but also the feeling of relief when you decide to be your unapologetic self and are embraced by a community. This book was a love letter to the magic of New York City and the heart that its people have. And also to the queer community. This book is one that is tattooed permanently on my heart.
Evike lives a life as a half-Pagan, half-Yehuli outcast in a village, where everyone else has powers blessed by the old gods except her. Every year, the Holy Order of the Woodsmen comes to her village to claim a pagan girl for the king’s nefarious purposes, and whoever is chosen is never seen or heard from again. When Evike is betrayed and offered to the Woodsmen by her townsfolk, she finds an unlikely ally in the Captain of the Woodsmen, a disgraced prince. During their travels they form a bond and join forces to overthrow the tyrants who have contributed to their alienation and oppression their entire lives.
This anti-nationalist, anti-Zionist fantasy is about faith, about feeling like an outsider everywhere you go, about what you are willing to sacrifice for a country who never cared about you, and much more. This blend of Hungarian history and Jewish mythology rooted me to the pages.
Elfreda is an acolyte of the Order, a group of women who practice blood magic. However, this magic comes at the cost of other martyred Sisters, whose flesh must be eaten to sustain their power. Elfreda is sickened by the fact that she is slowly consuming her own mother and wants a different life for herself. But when magic comes with such a steep price, there are many who would defile the Order’s laws to claim more power for themselves.
With horrifying visuals, blood pounding tension and terrifying monsters, Star Eater is a horror fantasy that will stick with you long after you’ve finished it. Hall weaves an intricate story of power and its cost and intergenerational trauma among a world with cutthroat women ruled -and sometimes destroyed – by their own ambition.
I was equal parts disturbed and transfixed by this book and devoured it whole.
In a world where America’s wealthy elite drink the blood of demons and sell their souls for power, Jay Gatsby emerges as an icon of the ages. He has a magnetic personality, intoxicating parties, and no soul. To Jordan’s resignation, Jay enlists her help to win her Daisy’s heart. But Jordan can see the yawning chasm of emptiness and hunger inside Gatsby, and inside Daisy herself.
This book kicked off the Roaring Twenties with quite the memorable bang. I was fully enraptured by Jordan Baker, queer Asian immigrant adoptee and socialite. She seemingly effortlessly navigates the casual cruelty of her enemies and friends. Nghi Vo’s debut is full of glittering shadows-but some of that gleam may be demon teeth, not gold. Chosen and the Beautiful gave us the glittering parties of Gatsby but lifted the veil to show us the selfishness, greed, ambition, and loss of humanity that comes with a life of excess. I was mesmerized by this book.
Red and her sister Neve are destined: Red, as a sacrifice for the Wilderwood, Neve as heir to the throne. When Red is called to the Wilderwood, however, she soon finds that the legends surrounding the mysterious Wolf in the Wilderwood aren’t true. She is dragged into a world of ancient prophecies, dying magic, and sacrifice. Red learns how to wield magic with Eammon the Wolf to save the Wilderwood and the sister she was taken from. But dark forces are gathering, and Red’s sister will stop at nothing to get her back.
This fantasy is perfect for fans of Wolf and the Woodsman and Uprooted. It slowly wrap its vines around you and root you to the page.